2009 Chevrolet Aveo5 Review – A small car with some big competition

Chevrolet Expert Reviews

By Alex Kramer


  • Plush suspension
  • Good build quality
  • Excellent 6 speaker stereo
  • Spacious seating


  • Tepid 4-cylinder engine
  • Very limited trunk space
  • Cheap looking fake leather seats
  • Mismatched exterior style
  • Poor overall value

Buying a cheap, entry-level car usually involves making a lot of sacrifices. Forget about power door locks, air conditioning, or fancy stereos. If it’s an economy car, that means hand crank windows, a manual transmission, and interior plastic that smells like a rubber factory after it has burned to the ground. At least, that’s the way it used to be. Nowadays consumers demand more and it’s rare that you can even find a fully stripped, no-frills model on the lot.

Chevrolet’s popular entry-level sub-compact, the Aveo, is no exception. Available in sedan and four-door hatchback (“Aveo5″) body styles, the Aveo seats five and can be ordered with a host of creature comforts. Our Aveo5 test car arrived nicely appointed, with automatic transmission, A/C, power accessories, and even satellite radio. But once you add all these options, this entry-level car unfortunately carries a more than entry-level price tag, leaving us wondering if the Aveo remains a good value when compared with bigger, better cars.

2009 Chevrolet Aveo5

Driving Impressions
Spend just 15 minutes behind the wheel of the Aveo5 and the predominant words that will pop up in your mind are terms like “decent” and “OK.” Nothing really jumps out as exceptionally good or bad, and on the whole the Aveo5 delivers a solid, uneventful ride. Most buyers will use the Aveo5 for basic transportation and won’t be expecting exceptional performance, but a little more driving excitement wouldn’t hurt. Compared to more engaging sub-compacts like the Honda Fit and Mini Cooper, the Aveo5 comes across as rather bland and mundane.

All models of the Aveo are motivated by the same 1.6 L 4-cylinder engine, which receives variable valve timing for 2009. Output is still quite meager, with only 107 hp and 106 lb ft of torque on tap. Combine this small motor with an over 2,500 lb curb weight and a 4 speed automatic transmission with wide gear ratios, and you have a recipe for slow acceleration. Using our unscientific stop watch method, it takes an agonizing 14 seconds to reach 60 mph. Only between 5,000 and 6,000 rpm does the engine have any pep, and the auto tranny makes utilizing this narrow power band quite difficult.

Although this sluggish performance precludes anything resembling spirited driving, especially in the mountains, the Aveo5 does OK when running errands around town or cruising on the freeway. The transmission shifts smoothly enough and acceleration is adequate for keeping up with traffic. Just don’t try to merge right in front of a big truck or pass someone with little room, unless it’s real life-or-death excitement you’re looking for.

Anyone who assumes that all sub-compacts handle like a sports car will be a bit disappointed by the Aveo5. The suspension has been tuned more to provide a plush, supple ride, then to carve corners. Steering response is also a bit lazy, which combined with the soft suspension will occasionally fool you into thinking you’re behind the wheel of a minivan instead of a sub-compact. For many drivers this won’t necessarily be a bad thing and it definitely helps the Aveo5 feel like a larger, more mature automobile. One small ode to sportiness is Chevy’s selection of 15″ low-profile Hankook tires. Despite their unassuming appearance and all-season tread, the tires provide a surprising amount of grip and limit the car’s tendency to understeer when leaning hard into a corner.

(Continued on page 2 – Build | Interior | Exterior | Value)

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  • Amber says:

    I bought my Aveo 5 LT in August of 2009. In the first 3 moths of driving it i had to have the transmission replaced and the following month i had to get an entire new electrical system put into it. Now, a year later, my CV joints are going bad and also have to be replaced. In my opinion it’s definitely NOT worth the time or money to spend on this vehicle.

  • Tom says:

    Bought my Aveo5 in December 2009. Last one on the lot, dealer wanted to get it OFF the LOT for $8999, absolutely basic, no AC, no power anything…I had $1650 GM Card earnings….my auto insurance company offered a %750 incentive to purchase a Chevy vehicle. I drove it away…paying $7605 cash for a brand new car.

    So far, so good. Was getting 30mpg during a harsh winter in South Jersey Philadelphia, PA. Spent two summer months in the mountains of Vermont, it’s getting 33MPG…. Yes, it does not like steep inclines, so you do have to nurse it up the hills and be gentle as you can with the brakes on the declines. But I really like the car, it’s fairly comforatble…it’s roomy enough for what I need. and I got a new car for a amazing price. It’s worth taking a test drive to see if it is for you.

  • Derek says:

    Only 27 mpg? If I drive conservatively, my ’02 Acura RSX can get 30 mpg. On those days when the slow lane is just too boring, I have 200 hp on tap. I agree with Alex, the Aveo5 deserves a C+

    btw, Alex drives an Escape Hybrid. So he is all too familiar with slow and staying out of the fast-lane.

  • louise says:

    the newer aveo’s are especially much better built and have nicer equipment available. i have an aveo5 that i put 87,000 miles on, and as a young lady i had a heavy foot but my aveo was able to take it very well. i myself wanted another vehicle so the hubby can take the aveo to work instead of his SUV. yeah there are a lot of choices out there but i liked the aveo so much and trusted it so i purchased an aveo sedan. great price, both versions of the aveo have four doors which is important if you have kids or want a family. i get at least 27 miles per gallon, from the outside the trunk looks small but once the trunk is open, you see that there is much more cargo space available. perfect for groceries. theres just a lot to mention. whomever is reading this, test drive one for yourself, look at it inside and out and get your own opinion. they are better than this article is portraying

  • Aveo5luv says:

    Wow..I actually do commercials for some of the larger car companies, including Kia, Hyundai, Toyota, and Nissan dealers. I wanted to buy a car that I do commercials for so I tried. Tried hard to like the Honda FiT..yeesh..then I checked a Toyota Yaris, but could not get a decent price, and no automatics available..same story with Kia Rio. Hyundai makes a great car, but again no automatic Accents available, and price went up considerably. The Scions look like clown cars you see at the circus with all the clowns crawling out of it..Same with the Nissan “Cube” (not cheap)..and to add to it all, a very arrogant, and condescending team of sales “associates” who only wanted to steer me to the higher priced models..I was lookiong for a car to tow behind our RV

    So I went to my local hometown Chevrolet dealer. Nice folks, who wanted my business and wanted to sell me what I was looking for. We saw the Aveo 5, and loved it. We bought it for a modest 14,600 with an additional 500 rebate..our payments are practically nothing, and the car runs great. We traded in a Mercury Mountaineer, and enjoy driving this much more. Excellent stereo, On-Star is a plus, and it it totally comfortable to drive and really sips gas. Anyone who can poke a hole in this is an elitest. Also I have owned trucks and cars that have also has issues at 50-60 thousand miles..I now know how to take etter care of cars, and so fara have been happy with longevity. I suspect the Aveo will be the same story. If it is well taken care of, it should serve us well.

  • Doc says:

    I bought my Aveo5 in Sept… I’m getting great gas mileage and this little car is quick… Maybe the guy who wrote the article drives a Porsche or something fast. But this little car is comparable to my S-10 with a 4.3 ltr engine, in pickup and @ 70mph on the hwy gets 30 MPG… It handles like a go-cart. has the turning radius of a BIG WHEEL, and is real cool looking too. He must be a Benz owner, or has no clue about cars….. Oh and I got 0% interest from GMAC for 6 yrs… My payments are $175.00 a month, which includes 6 yr Warranty, 4 yr OnStar. I Love my AVEO5

  • Ted says:

    I too bought an Aveo5 and am not disappointed. I had intended to buy a Yaris 5-door, but the Yaris interior was absurd. The ride of the Yaris is very similar to the Aveo. The Honda Fit interior was glitzy but unimpressive. The Aveo was much easier to get in and out of, and more comfortable to drive. If I don’t feel comfortable driving a car I won’t buy it, period. The Koreans are catching up to the Japanese, and the quality is similar. If the aveo were made in America I doubt the quality would be as good as it is – and from what I see of it, it is very good.

  • phil says:

    I should say rather, the Aveo is made in Korea and assembled in China.

  • phil says:

    Just admit the truth Jeff. You got rejected for credit at the Honda dealer. You really shouldn’t purchase a car based on looks alone. Previous Aveos are notorious for falling apart at 80k – 100k miles. Enjoy your Daewoo Its manufactured in Korea, yo.

  • Derek says:

    Someday we’ll do a comparison that includes American, Japanese, and European car makers. We haven’t quite achieved the status of Car and Driver or Edmunds to have that much pull with the car makers and get everyone into one parking lot.

  • Jeff says:

    I have to say – what, apparently, DONT the asian automakers do better? As someone who test drove the Fit, Versa, and the JOKE of a Yaris – I was proud to give Chevrolet my business and by a black Aveo5 LT. I got a MUCH lower payment for a better-equipt, better driving, and better looking Chevy, and I appreciate the interior not looking like a puzzle (Fit) or an underdesigned wall of plastic. As far as road noise, have you DRIVEN a Versa?! I appreciate all opinions, and by no means am I only someone who supports the US Auto industry. I wanted to get a Fit – I PLANNED on getting a Fit… that is, until I took one look at, and drove, that Black Granite Metallic Aveo5. Kudos Chevy – you earned the sale. The other three – they blew it.

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